Chiefs Fruean requires additional heart surgery

Chiefs centre Robbie Fruean will undergo a third heart procedure and be sidelined from Super Rugby for up to eight weeks.Rugby Injury

The 25-year-old, who has come close to All Blacks selection in recent seasons, underwent open heart surgery in 2009 after a bout of rheumatic fever caused pancarditis, or inflammation of the heart.

Last year, an artificial valve inserted during the 2009 surgery was removed and replaced with a larger version, keeping Fruean out the remainder of the season.

The Chiefs said in a statement on Monday that he will now undergo an “ablation procedure” to correct an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is confident centre Fruean will return to his best, despite the latest heart related health problem.

Rennie says Fruean is handling the latest setback well.

“We’re more concerned about him as the individual and he’s more concerned about the team and not letting the team down,” Rennie told the New Zealand media.

“So ultimately it’s best that he gets this done and then we get an all clear for him to return.

“Certainly the specialists and everyone are confident he will make a good return.”

Rennie says the condition has been controlled by medication and while Fruean had been coping well, it flared up against the Highlanders a fortnight ago.

The Chiefs, who are unbeaten after three games this season and lead the New Zealand conference, will also travel to face Australia’s Western Force and South Africa’s Bulls and Cheetahs without wing James Lowe and centre Charlie Ngatai.

All Black flank Sam Cane, who sustained a knee injury in a pre-season clash with the Blues, has returned to join the 27-man travelling squad.

During the Chiefs’ 36-20 win over the Stormers at Waikato Stadium last Friday Ngatai injured his calf muscle and will be out for four to six weeks.

Lowe damaged his MCL knee ligament and will also remain back in New Zealand with an expected recovery time of four to six weeks.

Ben Afeaki and Augustine Pulu also moved off the injured list to join the travelling group and will be joined by wider training squad members Brad Webber and Anton Lienert-Brown and Jordan Payne.

Payne has been involved with the side during the pre-season.

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